Despite a spirited second half performance, Macclesfield Town suffered a narrow 3 - 2 defeat at the hands of Crewe Alexandra in the FA Youth Cup First Round last night.
The game started with the home side enjoying large spells of possession and territory, yet it was the visitors who proceeded to take a hold of the game as their expansive style of play began to dominate.
Aaron Stockton made a string of fine saves to preserve the deadlock, yet he was powerless to stop Fenton Green's ferocious close-range header mid-way through the first half to open the scoring.
This undoubtedly catalysed Lee Bell's side into searching for more goals and they would double their lead shortly after when Tyreece Ouyenka smashed the ball home from six yards out.
Just before the interval, The Alex would secure their third as the referee spotted an infringement in the box and Joe Robbins confidently despatched the resultant penalty.
With a three goal deficit to contend with at half-time, it would have been understandable if heads had dropped - but this was far from the case.
Buoyed by an inspiring team-talk by Paul McGuire and first team head coach Daryl McMahon, the Macc youngsters returned for the second period in defiant mood.
Enjoying the bulk of possession, Macc sought to overturn the deficit right from the off with Tyler James and Connor Austin both going close within the second half's opening exchanges.
The breakthrough came mid-way through the half, as James showed some nimble footwork before slamming the ball home from ten yards out.
The strike served to inject even more belief into the home side, as they visibly gave their all in search of further rewards.
With just under fifteen minutes left on the clock, James seized on a defensive mistake and emphatically fired across the face of goal to set up a grandstand finish.
With the vast majority of the Moss Rose crowd willing them on, Macc went in search of an equaliser which would have sent the tie to extra-time.
James came close to grabbing his hat-trick on several occasions during the remaining period, but the clock would ultimately run out and it was The Railwaymen who progressed into the next round.
Macclesfield Town: Stockton, Osipitan, Fragapane, Beck, Seymour, Holland, Price, Austin, James, Manning, Savi.
Subs: Clegg, Patel, Logan, Chilufya, Mealing, Texiera, Soares.